Liturgy at Bellahouston

Liturgically, the Mass at Bellahouston Park was a mixed bag. It looked very much like the result of a tussle between the Papal celebrations team and the Scots new liturgy enthusiasts. There was some superb music and singing side by side with some that was so ghastly I took the headphones off until it finished. (As I write, Susan Boyle is singing "Make me a channel of your peace" as part of the post-liturgy provision which presents me with a more than usually difficult Catholic Dilemma.)

Visually, the sanctuary was disappointing. The throne, altar and lectern were made from fine materials, including marble, but managed to look pedestrian. This was particularly helped by the placing of three candles in boxes in a line either side of the altar. Whatever nuLiturgy expert managed to browbeat Mgr Marini into allowing that, instead of having some beautiful candles on the altar, should stick to school assemblies and creative liturgy prayer sessions for discussion groups.

One of the most striking positive elements was the reverent silence before Mass and at various points during the celebration. Under Pope Benedict we have learnt how to be quiet at the sacred liturgy where appropriate. I noticed this at the Mass for the Epiphany at St Peter's in January and it seems to be something that the Holy Father takes on pilgrimage with him.

The Bruckner Locus Iste was sung superbly before Mass but I do not think that it is the Introit for the Mass of St Ninian; neither were the two hymns also sung for the entrance procession. The offertory hymns were not the offertorium and the communion hymns and motets were not the communio. There were some wonderful pieces of music included (along with some truly gruesome things) but we still seem to have little sense of singing the Sacred Liturgy itself rather than singing things at it. Nevertheless, the parts of the Mass from the James MacMillan's new composition sounded very fine, and well suited to congregational singing.

The Holy Father is using Latin for the Preface and Eucharistic Prayer at all the three public Masses on the apostolic journey. This is a good example to others and a great support for priests who have already introduced some Latin at their Sunday Masses. The Papal booklet printed for the Masses also has the Latin texts printed for the offertory prayers which he says secreto. I am sure that I saw his lips move while he was incensing the gifts. And, of course, those who received Holy Communion from the Holy Father received on the tongue, while kneeling at a prie-dieu.

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